Hoboken ready to kill lunch trucks?
Hoboken Council meets on Lunch Truck Ordinance; Taco Truck not happy
The Hoboken City Council has a meeting tonight at 7pm, and included on the agenda is the lunch truck debacle that will lead to the eventual demise of current Mayor Dawn Zimmer.
The Taco Truck sent out a letter today, explaining the idiocy behind the draconian laws the city is trying to implement.
New lunch truck laws will kill mobile food options for residents
It has become apparent to us that the City of Hoboken is doing its best to marginalize the food trucks and make it impossible for us to conduct business. We understand the need to put an ordinance in place that regulates the food trucks and mandates certain requirements that protect our customers, this is long overdue but this ordinance goes well beyond that.
We have been hopeful that the Councilwoman Giattino, Councilman Mello and Parking Director Sacs would provide the much needed leadership to draft an ordinance that treats the trucks in a fair and equitable way. This hasn’t been the case and it is very clear to us that this proposed ordnance is nothing more than a way to protect the interests of brick and mortar restaurants and their landlords.
If this ordinance passes in its current form it will no longer be viable for us to continue our regular services in Hoboken. Hoboken is where it all started for us and thanks to our loyal customers we were able to put down roots and open a restaurant. Why wouldn’t the city promote this kind of entrepreneurship?
The problem with this ordinance isn’t the fees that will be significantly raised from $500/yr to upwards of $3,500/yr, although Jersey CIty is drafting an ordinance that has maximum fees of $500/yr. It also isn’t the GPS requirement. It comes down to two points that make this nothing more that a way to force food trucks out of Hoboken.
First is the requirement to be 75 feet from brick and mortar restaurants. The ordinance reads:
“This Chapter limits the proximity of Mobile Food Trucks to brick and mortar restaurants to secure safe and adequately spaced sidewalks in case of a fire, flood, and other natural or manmade disaster;”
How does this condition not exist in front of any building in Hoboken? When we challenged Councilwoman Giattino on this point she responded by saying that the city attorney said this was ok because restaurants have kitchens and have an increased chance of fire. OK…that makes sense except for the fact that all residential buildings have kitchens in them. Some apartment buildings have hundreds of kitchens in them. If the reasoning is to mitigate this potential hazard then food trucks couldn’t park in front of any building that has a kitchen. The fact is that this 75ft requirement is in place to protect brick and mortar restaurants.
The other issue with this ordinance is that food trucks are allowed a maximum of 6 hours in Hoboken with the additional Parking Permit Extended Time Endorsement. If a food truck parks at 11am for lunch service they must be out of any parking spot in Hoboken by 5pm. This means that food trucks can only do one service in Hoboken. Why would any food truck owner choose to vend in Hoboken with this restriction?
We hope that clear heads will prevail and the city will find a way to balance the interests of all the stakeholders involved. We also hope that the city council recognizes that enacting a protectionist ordinance does nothing to serve the interests of its citizens at large but rather a small group of connected restaurant owners and landlords with loud voices.”
Hoboken Lunch Truck Meeting “A waste of time”
Just a quick follow up to last week’s lunch truck meeting at City Hall. To sum it up from one attendee:
“The meeting was very disappointing. It was basically a waste of time since we were told decisions were already made and things would be moving forward, like it or not. The 4 hour limit was not open for discussion, yet this is a major point. With the increased fees and additional fees for the GPS the 4 hour limit is a death sentence, but this is probably the intention. The ordinance is making Hoboken an unfriendly town for these vendors, and who benefits from that but the brick and mortar establishments.”
Cinnamon Snail packs up and bids farewell to Hoboken – moves to NYC
And The Cinnamon Snail is kicking Hoboken to the curb, thanks to the amateurs running the show at City Hall:
“We love our Hoboken customers. We know some of you are disappointed that we are moving the Snail elsewhere now. For those of you who don’t understand why we are doing that, I wanted to share this:
It’s been a struggle for us to vend on the streets in Hoboken for the past two seasons. The laws are problematic, and the enforcement of them is strange and selective. We have endured tickets, threa ts, and sometimes spend up to 4 hours waiting on a parking spot for the one block we are able to park on where we don’t get harassed.
When the city started talking a year ago about changing the vending ordinance, we were in full support.
…As it turns out the plan is to make it much more expensive and even more difficult for us to serve here. The ordinance is still pending and may go through more revisions before it passes. The fact is though, Hoboken is not going to be stopped from changing the vending ordinance, and the new law will definitely be worse than what we have had to deal with for the last two years.
We have fought hard for the privilege to continue serving the community we love in Hoboken.
I have attended numerous meetings with the council and Parking utility about this issue. Hoboken’s administration has made their agenda and determination very clear.
In order to keep serving the public, and also continue to provide a modest living for my family, I have had to start gearing up to find a new place to run the cinnamon snail. NYC is that new place.
I know some of our customers in Hoboken are upset with us for moving on. I can only hope you understand that we are making this change so that we can continue to serve our food to the world. It hasn’t been an easy choice. We really do love you all in Hoboken and will miss those of you who can’t visit us in NYC. We will miss the great view on Sinatra, and we will miss being a part of Hoboken.
Please forgive us if you are upset with us, and help us make this transition with the support and friendship we have always felt from you.”
Sub-committee meeting about Hoboken lunch trucks tonight
If you want to see the play-by-play in the latest round of the Hoboken Lunch Truck debacle – here’s what the Cinnamon Snail owner has to say to you:
“Hoboken folks – There will be a sub-committee meeting to discuss food trucks on Thursday, Dec. 15 from 6 to 7pm in the basement conference room at City Hall.
If the ordinance that has been proposed passes, it will be the end for ALL food trucks in Hoboken. Please attend and speak out against the ordinance, if you are around… especially if you own 5 bar and grills (because those people are the only ones who seem to be listened to and represented by Hoboken’s Council).”
Hoboken Council barely responds to harsh lunch truck criticism
Under immense pressure from angry residents, the Hoboken City Council unveiled a slightly updated version of the proposed lunch truck ordinance everyone’s been griping about for the past few weeks.
In this “new” ordinance, minor unsubstantial changes were made – and still require these trucks to pay exponentially higher fees, and mandate that GPS receivers track their every move (that HAS to be unconstitutional, really! These people are NOT criminals on parole that need to be monitored. What about Mayor Zimmer? Should she wear an ankle bracelet so we can track HER movements as a TAXPAYER FUNDED EMPLOYEE?)
Hoboken wants to push food trucks out
The following is a letter submitted by Hoda Mahmoodzadegan – owner of Molly’s Milk Truck – provided it ever sees the light of day:
My name is Hoda Mahmoodzadegan, 26 years old. I am in the process of putting every last nickel and dime I have into a gourmet health food truck called Molly’s Milk Truck. Already having overcome a multitude of obstacles, including going from being the director of marketing and client relations for a firm in the city to becoming a healthy chef from having no domestic skills whatsoever, I am facing an even bigger challenge: The law. Hoboken is looking to pass an ordinance entitled Chapter 147. This ordinance will deny the local community of loyal customers the affordable, convenient, and quick quality food and services offered by mobile food truck vendors (such as ourselves).
Chapter 147 will force current mobile food truck vendors to park at least 100 feet away from any brick and mortar establishments and 50 feet away from any other mobile food truck, effectively uprooting us from our most trafficked, consumer-serving spots. This simultaneously denies us mobile vendors access to our target audience; a freedom built-in to the design of our small business and one which we rely on in order to survive. We opened our trucks so that we could specifically move around and satisfy a diverse base of consumers on the move; people like us who have limited time and budgets. Our mobile food truck businesses should not have to take the blame for struggling brick and mortar establishments.
In the past, local favorite food trucks have been wrongfully blamed for the economic woes of nearby businesses – more upscale, dinner establishments, which in fact cater to a distinctly different crowd; not the commuter crowd and others who lack the convenience of time who we serve. This crowd is the force behind our business prosperity – people who themselves cannot spend time at sit-down spots, spots such as those we are being pushed away from by chapter 147, due to such unfounded, exaggerated finger-pointing. The proposed law is not narrowly tailored enough to achieve the underlying objectives it sets out to address. We’re at their mercy. Please help.
I sent an email to councilwoman Jennifer Giattino today, I then forwarded it to all the council members so I could voice my concern (not just as a small business owner but as a concerned consumer as well). If anything, this is an infringement on our rights as a consumer, driving away fair competition to keep brick and mortar owners satisfied. I also have the two hour council meeting recorded, replayed it to try to understand it better but was worked up again when I heard one of the council members patronizing other mobile food truck owners in a condescending tone. I believe that this proposed law is really a violation of equal protection because it discriminates unnecessarily against businesses that otherwise would have a beneficial effect on the community. Curbing such businesses would be even more detrimental to the individual citizen as food trucks provide cheaper and quicker food. Alternatives that allow people to save money in depressed economic times while simultaneously freeing up their time to work more/spend more at other establishments. Businesses of food trucks and restaurants are inherently different and the success of one doesn’t have a tangible effect on the success or failure of the other. This discriminatory law which is based on zero facts and is really being put into effect because the council is unfairly comparing mobile food truck regulations from large cities like Boston, Austin Texas, New York City, etc to Hoboken (a town that’s 1 square mile).
The situation is disturbing, I am losing sleep over this more and more as we get closer to the next meeting council meeting. This story needs coverage before it’s too late. I believe that voting on said issue will occur on December 7th and I am doing everything in my power to draw attention to this. I ask that you sign this petition and support our small businesses at the meeting held at town hall located at 94 Washington Street on December 7th, I believe at 7pm.
Molly’s Milk Truck Truck Owner,
Popular lunch trucks in Hoboken, NJ threatened by new ordinance
City Hall is having a meeting on Tuesday regarding the proposed lunch truck ordinance.
The ordinance states that the food trucks will have to purchase an annual license for almost $5,000 that allows them just 4 hours in one spot and they still must feed the parking meter. The ordinance also goes on to state that if a truck is closed for more than 14 days they must refile for a license and pay again; this pretty much means that the truck owners cannot take an extended vacation even though they are self-employed and have already purchased the license. The ordinance has a lot of details that has a lot of people thinking they are indirectly chasing the trucks out.
Do you think lunch trucks should pay more than 10 times the amount they currently do? See what the owner of Ali’s Food on Wheels has to say about it below.
“I read the proposed ordinance. If passed it would impose a hardship on me. I should be exempt from the proposed parking rules based on “Grandfathering.” I have been operating my business in the same location for almost two decades. My business was built and is based on me being in this one location. I am willing to pay a fee for a parking permit if the permit allows me to continue to conduct my business as I do now, same hours and same location – basically I would be paying to buy the spot (and since I would already be paying for the spot I shouldn’t have to feed the meter as well).
The 4 hour restriction may work for the other trucks but it does not work for me. The other trucks serve other cities besides Hoboken. They move around and don’t stay in one location anyway. That is how their businesses were built. They are followed on facebook and twitter. I, on the other hand, serve only Hoboken and only in the one location. I do not move around and forcing me to imposes a hardship. My customers know I am in the one location, I don’t use twitter, facebook, or even have an iphone. I don’t have email on my phone. I operate the old fashioned way – the customer can call in an order or just walk up to the truck and order. My business is dependent on my location.
The 100 foot rule is unfair to me. I was here before many of the restaurants. When they looked to open a business in the area I was there, in plain view. I am not in competition with Odd Fellows, Texas Arizona or Lana Lounge. The food I serve is different and the atmosphere is different. I am a fast food establishment, not a sit down and be served establishment.
The GPS rule makes no sense in my case, since I don’t move around. I don’t have a GPS in my vehicle and don’t need one because I don’t move around. If the City needs me they know where to find me.
The 14 day rule is unfair and also makes no sense. I work hard, am I not entitled to take a long vacation? What if I want to go away for three weeks? What right does the City have to dictate my vacation time to me? I don’t work for the City. This rule totally tramples on my rights. If I pay for a parking permit it should be mine, regardless if I choose to not use it for a few weeks. The City would be paid for the permit and it shouldn’t be their concern if the permit is used or not. It would be my loss if I don’t use it not theirs. I have the right to plan a vacation without worrying about losing my business.
I am willing to pay for a parking permit that grants me the right to remain in my location and to continue doing business as I do now, but charging ten times what is currently being charged and at the same time imposing restrictions that will hurt my business is criminal. It is unfair and seems to be just a means to get me out.
I plan on attending the meeting Tuesday evening 11/22, please let me know if I should ask my lawyer to accompany me. All I am asking is to be allowed to continue making a living as I have been doing for so long in Hoboken, With so many people unemployed this is not the time to make it more difficult for a person to make a living. I work hard to support my family and shouldn’t be squeezed.
Sayed “Ali” Gomah
Fast Cooking food truck
Hoboken lunch trucks are doomed
In what appears to be a obvious attempt to eliminate the tasty and affordable food options for Hoboken residents, the Mayor’s Office has drafted a new mobile food vendor section of the city code. This new code will essentially chase most of the yummy lunch trucks out with ridiculous $4,000+ fees, GPS “big brother” tracking and many other draconian stipulations which do not promote healthy competition and looks more like appeasing voting blocks instead of listening to actual residents.
Here’s what one Hoboken411 reader said:
“I am a Hoboken resident and strident food truck supporter. The new food truck ordinance set to be voted on on November 14 by the City Council is simply a not-so-veiled attempt to eliminate the trucks altogether. While canvassing door-to-door before last year’s elections, I actually asked Mayor Zimmer, who was standing in my living room, about the plans to regulate food trucks. She told me that any ordinance would be a fair one, and it would be passed in order to limit the time, place and manner of the trucks, but would NOT be used as an insurmountable deterrent to the trucks. Apparently she lied right to my face, or simply her more important constituents (the brick and mortar establishments) convinced her otherwise.
Under the proposal, a truck will have to pay over $4,000 in annual parking permits, which restricts them from parking within 100 feet of a food establishment (essentially all of Sinatra Drive), and which restricts two trucks from parking within 50 feet of one another (essentially eliminating the popular Shipyard food truck area). The latter provision adds NOTHING to the bill, and can only be viewed as singling out the Shipyard area as a forbidden zone for more than one truck at a time. Oh, and if a truck were to pay the $4,000 for the privilege to park on Hoboken streets, it must still feed the parking meter!
I believe that the Council would be doing a disservice to Hoboken’s residents because part of what makes a “walk-able” city like Hoboken great are things like these food trucks, which promote creative, innovative, cheap, and fun food options for many office-workers and residents alike.
Please post an article about this awful ordinance that serves no purpose other than to drive the trucks away.”
11/14 Hoboken City Council Meeting
You can read more about the ways the city squanders away the revenue from already over-taxed residents in the documents below. Live video stream will be available at 7pm.